Word and Image

Archive for June, 2016

Lobster

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The don’t like white light. Great! Tell me after the dive. I learned this on my own, thank you very much. My buddy found it, three in fact. He did not bother to chase down the little one. He tells me this afterward! The first one was impossible. Everything was against me. Current, backscatter, and shyness (the lobster’s). Everyone loves to eat lobster. He knows it too.

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Racial consciousness? You know that a one time in Maine lobster was fed to the workers for dinner. And they objected. There are signs saying that lobster could not be served more than twice a week. I paraphrase but that is the gist. Ugly. I was afraid to touch it. It reminds me of a roach. I hate them too. My book names three different lobsters with the same color markings so take your pick. Lobster! No claws! Funny. The lobster has no claws, the best eating part according to my friends who eat them. And the shrimp around here have claws. Go figure?

IMG_8084Shy but not too bright. A pun. The poor guy would hide from the light but as soon as it was off he’d poke his head out again. They also say that lobsters have a brain the size of a roach. Fine. But roaches are a whole lot smarter. I never got a clear shot at any roach in my house. And they are big too. Remember Raid – Roach Motel – roaches check in and don’t check out? It was a box with roach allure and glue to hold the insect. On night the box shook. I thought we’d caught a mouse. Nope, a big roach came out of the box, shook off his legs, and continued on across the floor. They fly too! But that’s another story. But if you’ve never seen a grown man dive for the floor when a roach dive bombed… no, it wasn’t me.


Green Eyes

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Green eyed dancing shrimp. Hard to photograph. Yup. It’s a fact. Everyone loves to eat shrimp and they seem to know this. So they hide all day and come out only at night and even then they hide under the coral. Their eyes reflect your flashlight. So it’s easy to find them. They are small. And so the auto focus on my camera hunts. It does not often deliver the desired results. So when it happens, that is bliss. Wow. Perfect. He stayed around for me to get his picture. There were many shrimp this night. But this was the guy who made my night and my album. Details. Everything has to come together just so. And if not, then there is a blank space waiting to be filled when I finally find the right subject.


Porcelain Crab and Friends

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At the end of the dive – that long night dive – we were hovering at our safety stop. Three minutes. It’s like praying. You just hover and ponder life. It’s a safety stop! It’s not supposed to be entertaining. But this is the reason I ran out of air. Down in the coral – deep down – was a crab. Look. Two eyes over the left shoulder?

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Ok. I see him. Her? But to get a picture is impossible! How so? It’s deep. The light won’t reach and there will be shadows. The crab is shy! And he doesn’t like the light. And auto focus is stupid. It will focus on the nearest thing. That would be the coral and not the crab.

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I don’t control the camera. It does me the favor of imaging what I point at. And damn! Yes! Got several images. Not great. But I got the eye. The eye is the key to the soul. Ok, too much. But the eye makes the image interesting. Got enough so that you know it’s a crab. And I could even identify him in my book. I think?

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And when I reviewed the images, there was an added bonus. A shrimp. And something else. Obviously they were all hiding there. Maybe they were playing, who’s for dinner?


Goby Blenny Longfin

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We found this one fltting about. There’s that word again. Fish don’t flit. At least, well, it looked a lot like flitting. And I took a bunch of shots and got this one. The spots are to distract and confuse predators. You probably knew that, right? Colorful. And detail! See the texture of the fins. I’m proud I got such a nice shot. Underwater, I don’t chimp much. (Look at the image I have taken. Bet you know that term too.) So it’s nice to see my effort was not in vain. As for the name, it’s not in my book. The picture. So, I’m just guessing here. It’s not a new species. Someone just didn’t get a photo for my book.


Green

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Someone I know loves green. So here are color patterns that seem to go together. I would say I’m partial to red. It’s the color of the Red Sea. Red coral – Red Sea – duh! I was struck by the color when I edited. And I could not resist posting it. Otherwise this is just another pajama nudi on the reef. Oh boy! Like they are always just sitting around for a picture. Actually they move, Not fast but they cover territory and move from one dive to the next. Someone has seen them mating. I’d like to see that to photograph. You won’t see that here. I’m strictly G rated. HA

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Big Pajama Nudi

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How big? Everyone was laughing after the dive. These were the largest any of us have seen on the reef. We are all experienced divers. For this pajama chromodorid, these were quite large. As if a nine-foot tall person would be noticed above the crowd.

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But my pictures are all showing close ups and full frame images. So how to prove or how to make the reader realize these were large specimens? Well, fisherman always lie about how large it was, the one that got away… There were four.

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You see three. The other was not next to the others. Were they mating? That would have been neat to see too. The images here are uncropped. So, you can appreciate that my macro technique is a whole lot better too.

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The equipment doesn’t make the photographer. But it helps to have good euipment. Hmmm do we need a bigger fishing rod?


Willey’s Dorid and Pajama Chromodorid

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Here’s an odd couple. They were coexisting. Friends? Traveling buddies? Fighting? The big guy was picking on the little one? Anyway, it’s an unusual grouping. At this point the Willey’s is not usual but no longer unusual. Nudibranch have rhinopores and gills. You can see them. Sometimes you see them better. My macro work needs more work. I could not quite demo the rhinopores on the big guy.

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Tsk tsk, I think the point was to demonstrate the pairing. It brings up and interesting question. When is enough?

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I shot from different angles, from different focal lengths, changed the strobe settings, zoomed in, focused on parts, got a wide view… then you leave, swim on. At what point do you go? After one image? There was a time with film photography when you had a roll of thirty six exposures (one film roll) per dive.

IMG_6816Wow. My dives are about 100 to 200 images per dive. It’s not unlimited. Batteries run out. That limits your capacity. …unless I get a bigger camera… with a bigger battery.


No Cropping

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Another day, another Christmas tree worm. That’s what it’s called. It does look like an inverted pine. And this allows the worm to retract into the coral and be eaten. Hey! I’m not harassing the thing. But it will retract. No rhyme or reason. Some are more skittish than others. But here two things occurred. I got this beautiful background. And the worm is almost full frame. Huh? It means that I was able to macro image and this is pretty much full frame and uncropped. This is the only acceptable shot of ten that I got. It’s hard to focus. Remember? Everything is moving. I would like to say that I don’t shake. But it wouldn’t matter if my hand did or not. Either you are sharp or you aren’t. There are no excuses. Meanwhile great images accumulate and only a few are posted. I just use random choice to pick and choose. But this worm always makes me smile.


Night Hermit

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Those guys in the last post – the ones taking their night dive specialty – one of them found this at the dive platform. I find the tiny ones. You’ve seen my pictures. No matter. The guy pointed this out with his light. I knew immediately what it was. It’s nothing to look at – a gnarly shell moving on the bottom. But large! How large? The size of my fist. Well, maybe I exaggerate a bit. But it was large. This is nice. It’s a lot easier to see the crab. And so I got a nice shot or two.

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A crab this large is not seen much on the reef during the day. And if it already has a shell, why does it carry around a second shell on its back? Meanwhile it’s my mission to photograph all the hermit crabs I come across. In order to do so you have to turn them over. That would be messing with the wildlife. Sorry kids….

 

 


Cuttlefish

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Hooded. As opposed to non-hooded. It’s not much to look at. And it likes to camo – as in camouflage. So we saw it on a night dive. It’s ugly and really not terribly photogenic. So, you make do. You try to get the eyes. There is one in the picture. And I think he’s winking at me. No, I’m not paranoid. He’s also got this pink antenna like thing in front of its face. I assume front end is where the eyes are. Although they always say moms have eyes in the back of their heads… It was just happy enough to have me leave it alone. And like everything else, I don’t touch nothin.’

As an aside, there are very few people who enjoy night diving. Afraid of the dark? You bet. I think that the mind envisions a big shark lurking in the black waiting to gobble you and your flashlight in a single gulp. Yes, there are sharks. So at night the number of divers dwindle to about 2%. Well, whatever, it’s very very few. Grown men – afraid of the dark!

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Too funny. Yes, yes, I was too – at first. There is a dive specialty for night dives. I never took it. I just did it. The guys I was with were doing the course with the instructor. Funny. My son did a night dive right after his open water qualification. No instruction except for what I briefed him to look out for. He didn’t even have his official card. He was brave. I talked my daughter and him into it. Come to think of it, I’m not sure how many night dives she has done. No matter, it’s pretty straightforward as long as you have your trusty flashlight. They followed me into the murky dark of the Red Sea at night. No one else was there to do night dive. It was New Year’s eve in Jeddah. The water was too cold for the local folk. Looking over my shoulder in the eerie light, I saw both kids holding hands and flashing their lights in all directions with the other. Cute. They never did tell me if they were a afraid of the dark. The highlight of that dive was that they found a hermit crab. When I went to position it for a good shot, they pulled my hand away. No messin’ with the wildlife. Their mother taught them that. I’m much more casual.


Mantis Shrimp

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This guy has been on the reef at the dive platform for a couple years now. It lives in a big tubular hole that is deep. How deep? Very. It is known to spring on its prey. Lightning fast. The blow of the claws stuns and kills its prey. And it will inflict serious harm on me. At least that is what I have been told. So I am very careful. Yup, trust me. I’m careful. Right. And please don’t laugh. I really am. So I never get close in the daytime. I’ve tried. No luck. Not too much.

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He builds a cover and stays in his hole until night. I annoy him by opening the hole and rolling a piece of coral inside. He has to clean up and push it out. Then I grab a shot. The problem is that he’s a gray white crab in the same color sand. It’s darn hard to get a proper exposure. Snow pictures that should look white, they look gray. Yes, yes, compensate. I still have trouble. The night dive and strobe were much better.

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The last time around, I was pushed to the side by Aseri. He was shooting video. Big camera and major bright video lights. Ah! So the crab does not know what to do in the bright lights. Like a deer in the headlights, it seems that it is blinded. And it just stays still and does not retreat. Fine. So this time around, no Aseri. He was with another diver. And I shot and shot. And then I tried to get in close. Oh! Stupid! It springs! And fast! Though I have never seen it in action, I believe the You Tubes. And then I wanted to macro the eyes and the mouth. Yes, the lion’s den and the lion’s mouth. Stupid? I made my settings. The current was pushing me around. Steadied myself. He stayed right there. I’ve got my flashlight on him. Can’t see, can’t focus. Remember? And now I move in closer and closer.

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My hand is on the camera. Right hand. I’m left handed. The shutter is on the right. I’m thinking that if he strikes he’ll most likely hit the camera and not my hand. But at least it’s not my operating hand(left). Stupid stuff you think about when you are about to do something no one would recommend. Ah! But I got in close. I could have gone closer. But for now, that was pretty brave of me.

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Hey! There are no whites to the eye of a shrimp. Yes, it has two claws. They bend the rules and definitions a lot. There were black spots. And if you will look those spots and the eyes swiveled with my movement. So, stupid, he was watching you. Me. Next time, if there is one, I’ll try to macro even closer. Or, not!


Toby

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Not his name but its name. Get it. Why? I don’t know. I’m happy enough to know and remember the name. He’s cute. Tiny fins and he flits. I know. Birds flit. But this fishie does too. He’s skittish and does not like me approaching. He’s got good taste. Or, he tastes good? Ugh. Bad joke. Sorry. At night we found him! Asleep! We, because you never dive without a buddy and he (my buddy) found it. I have such good friends who show me things. At the same time we were in ‘deco’ mode. I was a bit worried. He was not. We survived. And my other dive buddy, Amr, may never know the truth of this night. He’s my safety conscience. Yes, indeed, it’s good to have a conscience. And on this dive we used all the air in my tank. Well, I was responsible for using it all. Not him. Yup the very last breath. 90+ minutes of dive time.

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Oh! So the fishie was sleeping. Why? And out in the open? But he did not move and I was all over him with my strobe and lights and flash and all. Got a nice shot. He posed!


Durban Dancing Shrimp

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Okay! It’s actually spelled out – not – ok. This was the first of what I call Durban dancing shrimp. Yes, yes, out of order. Hey, it’s my blog and you may read backward now if you wish. It was under a rock and hiding with its protector urchin hovering over it. And though my dive buddy pointed it out, I could not for love or money get a shot. His Go Pro was not going to get anything. His camera was out of commission. So my mission (tra la) was to get something. The shadow of the rock did not allow me to aim the camera and get the light in. SOL – shit outta luck. Or: some other lifetime… So how in the world are you looking at anything. I’m not making this up? Oh, see the striated legs are purple. And the spots are not three dimensional like the other post with eggs. Same, similar, alike, male vs female. Who knows? I told you I have this book. And when I ask questions I get blank stares. Me, I’m just happy I got a shot.

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Oh! So how we did it…. My buddy shined his light into the hole from behind. It shone over the shrimp and I got a shot. His light was daylight balanced. There were a lot of stars that aligned for me to be able to show you this image. Did I say it’s hard to do? It’s the challenge. It’s why you keep coming back. Mother Nature always pitches you curves.It’s tiny. You could barely see it until the post processing. Thank you Canon camera for making a great lens and sensor.


Dancing Shrimp

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It’s a dancing shrimp too. Not like the others. Nope. It has a pointy head. And it hid. And it moved away when I got close. Sneak up. Act like you are not paying it any attention. Ha! Try that underwater. I’m a big bubble blowing thing in a large wet suit. Yeah! I don’t think I fool anyone. And the bubbles make a hell of a racket underwater. Fish have ears. If they have ears, how do they pierce them. If not, how will I ever tell the boys from the girls. The shrimp here has something frilly on its body. I don’t know what it is except to point it out. The legs have color striations. And the eyes are on stalks. I’d think more lobster than shrimp. But it is just conjecture on my part. I see this thing and photograph. That’s a challenge. Suppose you were a marine biologist tasked with getting a specimen. Good (damn) luck!

IMG_6879-2Damn tiny! You would not notice it. I didn’t. My dive buddy was using a flashlight in the daytime dive. He shone it into every nook and cranny. It’s good to have friends with good equipment. Way better than a candle….


Green Eyed Dancing Shrimp

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This is a shrimp that is associated with the urchins common to our reef. Urchins come out at night. And so, too, the shrimp appear. This guy was out during the day. Brave fellow. People like to eat shrimp. I suppose other fish do too. Getting the shot was hell. The shrimp stays in shadow and moves if you pay it any attention. So to get in close is not too practical. And to get the light in the hole is pretty challenging too. I will add that it is very tiny. Not even a morsel for the cocktail sauce. So it’s all the more amazing I got a shot. You’d understand too, if you knew how I had to stand on my head to get this shot.

IMG_7097-2It’s tiny. How tiny? The best way to find them it to see the reflection of their eyes from the flashlight. When they see the light they flee. Aha! Some guys use a red light. It helps. Me, I just use luck. It’s lucky we have anything to post for you to see. I’m lucky.


Seasons – Durban Dancing Shrimp

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My reference book of pictures is not complete nor accurate. The best I can make out is that these are Durban dancing shrimp. They hang with urchins. Why? Protection. And for sure, it you touch the spiny urchin you will be hurt. It’s needles are so sharp they will easily penetrate a wet suit or gloves. Did I ever tell you to touch nothing under the sea?!! I may be seeing things but there are tiny round things all over the outside. Eggs? This is a shot I am lucky to have. Just plain lucky. The camera and flash are not parfocal. In a hole that mean my light is pretty useless. I managed to pull out this detail from my image. But it was not easy. Then again, it’s a very interesting image too. It’s the first time I’ve seen this shrimp. There are seasons. A month or so ago it was hermit crab time. And the stone fishes were gone for a while. Now I begin to understand the rhythm of things.

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Mating has its season too. Maybe they are eggs. It’s surely an unusual place to carry them. The urchin protects. It was pretty bold sitting there among the sharp spines.


Garden

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Here’s my rose garden now. The best garden is the one I can admire but don’t have to tend. No weeding. No deadheading. No watering. Just admire and smile. I did container gardening for more than twenty years. I’ll pull out some slides and show you someday. Plant, wait for the flowers to grow, deadhead, water, and fuss. It was a pretty damn good garden. It was like therapy. I’d water for an hour and be pretty mellow. Then it became a chore. And no one appreciated the effort. Oh well. Everything changes. These days, this is my garden. It is a landscape of coral that look like gray stalks underwater. Shine a daylight color balanced strobe on them and they are spectacular. You don’t have to agree. Fine by me. But I get to admire them and they always make me smile. They are down below 70 feet. Not too many divers venture here. No one seems intent on destroying beauty. There was a gorgeous fan coral someone destroyed not too far from here. Fortunately, the beauty of this coral is hidden until you make them shine. I get to see a lot of neat things. I get to see them over and over. This sort of makes all the downside better. Like roses with thorns, coral has the nasty habit of giving you skin irritation. So remember. Don’t touch nothin,’ nothin’ ever! I can assure you my advice is sound. (I’m itching the back of my hand as we speak.)


You Gotta Drink From the Source

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Really? This is one crazy cat. He waits by the sink. Turn on the water. He can’t speak but he has trained me. He can leap from the floor to counter height in a single leap. Hey, if you can do that, the least I can do is turn on the water. Of course, the price is that I take a picture of the cat looking silly. Kids. If mine saw me taking embarrassing pics of them… poof, I’m out of the family. White cat, white sink, cool.


You Want Weather?

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You want weather? I saw weather. Unfortunately, I cannot demonstrate here how absolutely breathtaking it was to drive through. It was dusk. The rain all day lifted enough so that there was no fog at all. The air was crisp and cool. Moist. The sun peeked in from the right and shone under and against the clouds. How special? People were stopping to get photos with their smartphones. We got a full rainbow. I can only show you half.

The clouds were changing rapidly. The light was fantastic but only for a few fleeting moments. Free show! And then it was gone. The clouds were so ephemeral. Storm clouds were still gray with rain to my left. It was nature at its most awesome. Enjoy the show. I wish you were there.


Another Day Another Barn

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My years in Maine afforded me many pictures of the countryside. I liked to drive the back roads and see spring bloom. These are wildflowers until someone tells me they are weeds. Most likely they are. Ha! I’m not saying. But the color and the season are so cheerful and full of hope. It’s been a while since I was cheered by a sight like this. Remember, the Middle East is desert and barren. Mostly garbage strews my view. I would have accepted a bright blue sky day but you can’t have everything. I did not hop out of the car. I just shot from the open window as we wound our way up the hill to park to see the sheep. Oh yay!


Gambling

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While spinning wheels are on my mind I’d like to tell you another story. Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Worldwide and from across the USA people come. The traffic line was more than a mile long. And no one cut in. My my, what a polite crowd. Big? You bet! And just to see sheep, really? Yup. I was pretty impressed. The hillside was covered with cars. They’ve done this before. And the fairgrounds were packed.

Gambling? There was an auction. People were selling. Part of the sale went to support the next fair. You name it, there were things of value and junk. Outright junk. You sort and figure is all out. A single spinning wheel, a very special one, never before on the auction block went for more than $2000. And junk was sold for $5. You had to bid. It was friendly as long as you weren’t bidding against a nut case. You also need to have an idea of price. Oh yeah! Like I know spinning wheels and the cost of looms. Good stuff. As is. Who knows. Old things and brand new in the box. So I watched. Saw that $2000 wheel go to a woman whose husband approved. My my, that’s a lot. And then I put in a bid on a flax spining wheel. I got a nod. The auctioneer was not looking my way. I had to make noise. You sort of grunt ascent and wave your hand. Don’t look like you are scratching your head. And then it comes down to two or three women who stay in and drive up the price until the determination in my eye or the price exceeds their desire. Got it. As in, I bought it.  No, silly, I didn’t take a picture. I don’t shoot everything.

The last time I did an auction was back when my kids were 8 or 10 years old. Their school auctioned off a large white stuffed bear. How large? Bigger than my two kids combined. They were impressed. Me too! I got it for about $20. The very next year at the same auction I got another but smaller bear for another $20. After that never again. I’m not a gambler by nature. I think that I would be tempted and lose the family farm if I were in Las Vegas. The worst I ever did was lose $5 in Atlantic City. (We had to pay for parking to enter the casino.)

I was in Puerto Rico at a spine meeting and the hotel had a casino. An orthopedic friend of mine handed his girlfriend $20 and told her to have fun. She went to the roulette table and damn if she didn’t parlay that money into $5000. Wow. She bet corners and lines and …. She hit the number a few times. Double wow! So years later during a family vacation at the Tyler Place in Vermont, lo and behold – Casino Night! $5 got you a Styrofoam cup of chips. Using my knowledge of roulette, I lost that cup of chips in less than 30 seconds. I walked away much the wiser. Nope. I don’t gamble.


Pop

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“Pop goes the weasel.” Ever hear the song? “Round and round the mulberry bush …pop goes the weasel.” Sorry, I’m not giving singing lessons. Look it up if you like. But like “Ring around the rosie..” (a different song) there is a significance. “Ashes, ashes, we all fall down…” referred to the plague and death. That’s a downer. I liked that song too.

This?! Is a weasel. Yup. There is a weaving spinning device called a weasel. And it is used to measure yarn. You set the device and spin the yarn on the arms and it counts out a measured length. And when you reach the desired length you set – “Pop goes the weasel.” Simple. Elegant. Did you like that? Did you know that? Do you care? I learn new things all the time. Cool! Yeah, yeah, and we got one. Actually two. I guess the first one needed a friend…?


Detail

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Nothing new here. I take pictures of everything. Fish when they are there. Food when it’s in front of me. It’s a learning process. I look. Then I wonder how it is different. We see things. But do I look at them. Too much. Too many things. Details. I would never move on. I just look and sometimes things strike me. So here is the latest. A plant from the nursery that I just planted. Actually, I think it was Lowe’s. I just randomly pick things that will be colorful and grow with not too much fuss over the summer. I’m pretty much with a camera all the time. Or an iPhone. I prefer a camera. If it’s worth shooting I should be serious. The exception is in the hospital. I have my smartphone always. And the image is good enough for Powerpoint. I shoot images of the x-rays I see. Interesting cases. And then use them for teaching.

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But here, the macro capability of the camera shines. Stamens. Focused. Detail. I daresay it’s better than the other images of the whole flower. Do I really need to show you the whole thing. Sure, if it’s a catalog. No, if it’s to draw your eye to a detail you might otherwise not appreciate. I’m good. Not great. Got a shot you might not have taken. But I didn’t get out a true macro lens and set this shot up with pinpoint detail. Nope, sorry. That would be work. And this is all fun for me. I watch my kids roll their eyes and stop listening. Then I know I have gone from fun to work. I’m not working right now.

IMG_4805However, I do take play seriously. The funny thing is that I  pull out my phone to show pictures and the same rolled eyes start.


Egg

IMG_4789Which came first? The chicken or the egg? I confess that now when I dive I compose a post to go along with the fish I shoot (images of). 99% never make it to post. Forgot. Too many images and only one post a day. I don’t try to do more. It’s TMI. And besides, who’s looking? Thank you to you kind readers who put up with me.

This mundane photo is like Proust’s Madeleine. It’s a BLT. Uniquely of my childhood. And beside it is a latte. Uniquely of my past two years. The BLT was in my life from childhood. My mother made them. Bacon was ok to eat then. She even did deep fried shoestring potatoes in the grease. I ate them whenever we traveled to Morgantown, WV for my orthodontist appointment. There was a diner. I ate one and if I could – two. My treat. I don’t know why I needed a treat. It was someone’s mom or my own who had to drive all the miles to the dental appointment.

And second, when I was in college and off to school, my mother would make BLT’s for lunch every Sunday. It was like clockwork. A habit. And I remember them fondly enough that the method and recipe remain about the same. The essentials are the bacon, tomato, and miracle whip. Yeah, yeah…but that’s how I ate them. So change the bread and do a different lettuce….

Third…latte. Didn’t know what one was till a couple years ago. Starbucks, not me. Didn’t go. Immune to coffee. I like the aroma. Never drank the stuff. I either slept or stayed awake but did it without coffee. Now we have a machine. I get flavored latte. Maple syrup, chocolate, hazelnut, and all other manner of tastes. Actually, the best coffee I ever noticed was Kona. Hawaiian. Grown on the Big Island. Smooth, no after taste. Expensive. Usually sold cut. So there’s Kona with 5% real Kona. Don’t fall for it. And so I’ve become a latte fan.

Where is this all going? I take pictures of everything. So here’s the picture. I was editing my recent trip to Chicago and this is a shot from home. I’m far from home again. This is a reminder of fond memories I left behind.