Word and Image

Cat

oh say can you see

Déjà vu. I try to remember 9/11. Here we are. It’s a round circle. (is there any other kind?) From NYC and WTC to Afghan and back. We got our butts kicked once more. With gusto. History repeats. In the end, we!! gave arms to the Taliban. They will cherish them and “buy” our ammo. Was that the plan? Meanwhile, we donated, no gave away, a trillions dollars (with a “T”)! I guess you cannot make the same mistake twice? Afghan’s chief export is poppies.


Odd day

I was housebound and determined to have an adventure. So? Antiques! Nope. Everything is closed around here on Monday. The (poor pitiful) mangy cat awaited in front of one antique place (closed). A VIP funeral went by with a fancy glass hearst and a long parade of trailing vehicles. So famous… we could not find mention in any internet listing. Travel took us to the towns of Milford and Wyoming. Oh yeah! There’s a giant bee, much larger than the usual. It does not look like a carpenter bee. The other large bee listed is from Indonesia, nope, not that one either. ?? Dunno. My passion flower survived Barb! And Nutley? … just too cute for his own good! Gee, he makes me look like a good photographer.


Water

It is part of my life. We live near it. I have always lived near to water. Even in the Middle East, the Red Sea was moments away from me. I have a water view and the beach is less than a mile from home. Water can be subtle or bold in my images. It always adds interest. Underwater (diving), yes, but I tend to avoid the pouring rain. I’m so lucky, yes, so lucky.


It’s late

But, it’s never too late to learn a new trick. I discovered beefsteak tomatoes. Ha ha! Everyone else knows them. I am late to the party as usual. Colleen bought one. I just about let it go bad on the counter. Then, we got mozzarella. I added olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Voila! Instant revelation! I was stunned. I don’t think I ever ate a beefsteak tomato before? Or if I did, it was not a true tomato?

An aside? I shoot macro images. Sometimes it feels as though I cannot see the details the lens captures until I start editing. The details! Water droplets? Subtle and not noticeable until I enlarge the image. Yes, I feel like some images were shot with my eyes closed.

Focus? Dead on accurate – the cat (Peas) – or, it’s not a shot. You aspire to a different standard.

And that beefsteak? A simple recipe. Good lighting. Luscious color. Mmmmm….


Hopeless

It seems a lost cause to try to limit myself to one picture and one story per day. Some days have too many – stories and pics. Sorry. How about an upside down dragonfly? ?? Really?! Yup! It flopped to the deck right in front of me with a thud. Truly! It was an act I did not realize until I did the edit. Later, it flipped and flew away. Relief!

The building – it was across the street from the restaurant – beer flight – inside on the wall was a black and white photo ala this view – for $700. Nope! I’m not kidding. Sorry, I would not pay that kind of money for that kind of shot. I have too many of my own in the discard pile. Really! Balls; ya gotta have ‘em to take that shot and price it like that.

Flight time? You can order a “flight.” This allows you to taste five beers as a sampler. Fun! Yes! Colleen loves dark beer. To me they all taste the same and are bitter. She can appreciate the nuance. I appreciate that she loves the experience. I’m still struggling to appreciate the BxW building on the wall next to me.

Still life – note the flattened peaches. I did it subtly so as not to squish out the juices. That is a large tomato for scale? – or small peaches. Watermelon in the background – I am in a watermelon eating stage right now.

The cat and sunset are throw-ins. It’s the end of the day. I keep a camera at hand all over the house. Ha ha! I have enough cameras to do this. And, sometimes you get the shot because things were there at hand and jumped onto the memory card – all by themselves. Gee, I’m lucky sometimes.


Focus

The camera does what it will. The difference between great and ho-hum is making the camera do your bidding. Unfortunately for me, it doesn’t work out as I’d like, most of the time. Good? Bad? It’s mixed. The detail in the dragonfly eye is stunning, especially enlarged and up-close. You can see “hairs” in the flowers. But, though there be motion and blur and reflections, other images still work. For my cats, I find that sharp focus on the eyes is key. Maybe it’s not for you, but, I’m ok with the surprises I find when editing. It’s fun. I’m not shooting for money. Fun would be work. Nope. Strictly amateur, I get a free reign to shoot for the pleasure of good images amongst the lot.


Buddha

There’s a shop we visit where the owners have been retiring for about five plus years. Everything is on sale 50% off. They wanna retire. Correct prices? How about 2X mark-up at ½ off? No? Well, whatever you buy is worth whatever you are willing to pay. There is a sense of scale to what things cost. Right? They specialize in Far East art, like Buddhas. Lee asked and was told depending on the culture Buddha has a different look. Some cultures believe Buddha is slim and in others, he is fat. I never paid much mind. I have learned something new once again. My cat? It could be Ray or it could be Nutley? Either way, they are well on the way to enlightenment. Does it matter which cat posed for me? Ummmm….


Turning the page

At this point I have a goal: to teach Colleen to dive. It probably won’t happen. There are too many things going on in our lives. Once upon a time I taught Dave to dive. Jules, Dave, and I had a magical New Year’s in Saudi, where we dove and the kids did their first night dive. First time: it was a thrilling introduction and a memory we uniquely collectively share forever. For a time, I dove every weekend. I still have my dive gear and the camera housing. Likely, I will not use it again. Sad. But, I saw and recorded some amazing things – a hermit crab laying eggs? That’s not something you see – about as rare as hen’s teeth. Nowadays, in retirement, I’m shooting flowers, pets, and people. I still subscribe to a Dive magazine online – free! The photographs are stunning. It reminds me that I will probably not dive every weekend and that my photo underwater skill is static in the face of so many new developments. Wistful? No: one door opens as another closes. Change is inevitable and things never remain the same. I love my life; it rhymes with loving my wife… and cats.

Jen came up with the term ‘Bee sting’ look. Well, she taught the term to me. Purse your lips. Ok! Look. Try it! Bruce does not play along. Constipated? The generations are changing. The gen above us is gone as we will soon be. This summer’s hope is to imbue our kids with the desire to return.


Eyes

Portrait photography – the first rule – focus on the eyes. From the start, when I did film photography, it was always focus (manually) on the eyes. Nothing else is as important. Cats feel threatened when you point a big lens at them. It’s like a big eye. The cat does not like it. Mine, they are resigned. I have pointed so often that the lens is familiar. It’s still not easy. The skill is in putting the lens in front of their eye so it looks as though they are looking at you. Ha! And, salt on the tail, will catch a bird! It ain’t easy. But then again, if it were, all my pictures would be perfect. Right?


Happy

Happy… birthday. Happy!? I hope I have made you as happy as you have made me so. In a simple collage we have the essence of it all: cat, food, travel, spinning, beach… together. Good time?! Yup! Favorite cat? We all have a special one. Ha! Not really. If a picture is worth a thousand words… I hope you will know how my feelings are in this collage. Happy?…. as the cow jumped over the moon. Happy? … my wish to you.

Flag? Symbolism? Meaning? Interpretation? Philosophical? Deep? Poetic? … Nah! Spontaneous. It was eye catching as I edited… gestalt. Ah! And flowers….


Follow me

Depending on punctuation this can be a command or interrogative. To those who follow this blog, it doesn’t matter. You are already included in being notified about my posts. If someone does a basic search on WordPress, I am not immediately noticeable. ?? I don’t list myself in category or tag under “photography.” I did a casual search today and realized the omission. Now, begins the experiment to find out if this blog is noticed more. The rest – tags and category – may not have much relevance beyond letting me search for older posts. Let us see.?!


Writer’s block

I could hardly be accused of being cramped. I keep saying there are too many images  and not enough time. The cameras give me technically sound shots. I used to shoot 36 images (film) per day. Now, it can easily be 700 images (digital) in a single outing. Philosophically, less is more?! One image? Sure. But, it’s so much more illustrative (fun!) to share the backstory (ha!) on what’s doing.

Look to home when you need inspiration? My cat Feather has replaced Peas in the basket in order to occupy space and ambush Peas (in her former favorite spot). After Barb cut down my passion fruit vine, the new one and its flower is a surprise brilliant red. Sometimes things happen for a reason (photo op). Meanwhile, you will see Chestertown illustrated. It was a charming town, an over the top excellent find by Colleen, who loves history, shopping, eating, art, and above all, all things “charming.” We could not have had a better day with our clothes on. (Shhh, she wasn’t sure about the dress length; she wore shorts beneath.)


Having fun…?!

I had a dream. Anne, a girl, an old friend, one from the third grade, was in it. I hugged her. I have been wondering about Anne since the eighth grade, when I last saw her. Oh, the guilt, to hug an old girl, friend. I’m married. Happily, again, now! Carol laughed. Ginny – isn’t this the reason you go to confession? Impure thoughts? Colleen, shrugged. She knows I’m hers. (she got my signature, what there is of it, on the “certificate.”)

Trapped? (in the basket, see Willow, the cat) Nah! Nope!

Cats? I should learn, take a lesson, be more like them…

Flowers? Every day, I bring … I think that I am so lucky to be in this place at this time…. Ginny laughs at my openness. There is truth – Colleen and I are having fun. It’s not hard to see at all.


Ticks and bees

I dreamt about posting/blogging. Yeah, weird. I never did that before. The old question arises. Am I shooting for the blog? Or, are my shots “worthy” photos? Technically correct, many of my images are good. But, worthy? Goofy! Goofy? My garden – I discovered a tick (looking at the flower picture) after the shoot. Ha! I thought it was a spider. Wrong! And, long gone, there is no finding that tick. Now, I have to worry about my cats. Bee? Almost, but no cigar. The focus missed by just that much. Alas. Focus!? Ah, an antique store with old cameras. Wonderful, but, they are film. Collector’s item? No, more like they are dust collectors. Covid is pretty much done. There are no rules any longer. We are half masked, or, not. Brain coral celosia? Close, but not quite, I am still working on focus and lighting. Poor Peas, the calico kitten, has her own problems. She’s cute. The older Maine coon cats are jealous? They keep jumping her! I mean pouncing, hissing, loud, mean, ambush type altercations. So, ticks, are a problem but not foremost among what I think about.


Latest, greatest

But what have you done for me today? Time moves forward. The moment passes and you can never go back. You can look back. Smile or regret, it’s up to you. Shhh… I like kittens. But, they grow up. We all age. But, I love you more, because of it. It’s in the “knowing” not the image.

Gestalt theory emphasizes that the whole of anything is greater than its parts. That is, the attributes of the whole are not deducible from analysis of the parts in isolation. The word Gestalt is used in modern German to mean the way a thing has been “placed,” or “put together.” There is no exact equivalent in English.

And, there is no equivalent way to pick one photo over another. It’s an unknowable feeling that comes as you edit. “That’s it” the one! I have to say that I am most fortunate to be able to say that I had a choice and that I have choices. Yup, I gotta a lot of beauty around me these days.


Mission

Cats? Family? Memory? Fine photography? The original mission was to post nice photos and give a back-story comment on the image. I stray, being a diary, commenting with humor, and posting pet pictures. They are good photos. Lately, they are current; I have so many old pictures to share, not enough time. The feedback via likes and comments is meager. Do I care? I appreciate feedback; but it doesn’t matter so much as the fact that I have an outlet for thought and deed (image). It’s been a work that will linger on the internet for a while. Am I striving for immortality? Hardly! Do I shoot for myself?… or to blog? Sometimes, it’s a bit of both. Clearly? Nope, the mission is blurred by the fact that I make the rules and I never met a rule I didn’t try to break. No matter what, it’s always about an image that inspires me. I was never serious. I am? Humor will always creep in along the edges. Fun? You bet!


Eyes

Focus – eyes. If the eyes are in focus, just about anything else is forgiven in a portrait. The image is an edit discard if the eyes are not focused. If you stand back far enough everything looks in focus. Up close – focus is critical to the success of an image. Have I said focus is important? In a family of ten it’s important to be focused. Ha ha! I did a go around the house and got everyone’s eyes, mine included. (I chose to be upside down.) I suppose this is photo lesson 101. Focus!


Déjà vu … again

As Frank Sinatra sang, “Regrets, I have a few….” The last time I made a major camera purchase was in 2014. We went to the mecca of camera stores (B&H) and I got a brand new spiffy Nikon D610. A month later the D700 followed by the D750 came out. (About the same price, better features!) Bad timing. Of course, no one tells you in advance so they can dump old inventory at max price. This time around I got a Nikon Macro 105mm lens to go with the Nikon Z5. This stuff ain’t cheap! And! Déjà vu! A month later, the new Z mount macro lens was announced. You don’t care. You didn’t get gypped again! I could buy/sell/trade my way to the new model lens. Nah! The old lens is fine; it’s just more weight (older lens). And, I have already gotten my money’s worth of macro photography even before the new lens has been released for sale. But(t), as with many things in life, timing is everything. My (timing) was perfect again. Then again, gear is not the definition of a photographer; anyone who buys great gear is not guaranteed success. Good tools make things go better. This mix of photos is with different cameras and lenses – right tool in the right moment, or, the tool at hand in the moment. The humming bird was fortuitous (lucky!!): I was holding the 105mm macro. This lens worked at the critical moment.

Macro? you ask? This one wuzza puzzler. Two bees humping? I thought they worked with a queen. No humpin’ allowed. It’s not an expected behavior?! This was right tool (lens) in the moment.


It’s relative

My cats interact. I did not ask them about the next cats that came to us- whether they approved or not. When I ran a medical practice, my way was to let the people under me hire their colleagues. It meant there was always compatibility. My cats? War! The Maine coon cats are large and intimidating to the new kittens. Tillie has an attitude. She walks around growling randomly, no questions asked. Everyone gives her wide berth. Peas is just a sweet kitten. She has been stomped on more than one occasion. She’s a victim. Nutley is her protector. Elle now is a secondary target. Interaction? It’s complicated. Everyone is on edge. I got a serious family feud around hereabouts.


How often…

… do you see eight cats sleeping simultaneously in my house? They must have been exhausted. It must have been a very busy day stalking one another, falling off the balcony, scrounging for food, and chasing all over after each other. Who knows? We do “cat count” periodically. I like to know that no cat has gone AWOL. In about 5 minutes I located them all. And, each was asleep! Really!? Peace on earth! They never sleep simultaneously. Someone is always prowling about the house. Nope. Asleep! … I have a feeling that no one sleeps tonight.


Ambush

Ambush, a game the whole family can play. Sh’t flows downhill. The big cats are picking on the little one. ?? … ‘cause they can. I am breaking them of the habit. It’s sort of working, so far. So, I came upon this scenario. Stalking. Peas was in a new cat bed. Spice and Feather were sitting 10 feet away, waiting, waiting to pounce. I broke that up. I’ll never know what might/would have happened. And, meanwhile, Ray managed to fall off the balcony when he jumped to chase a bird. We went on a merry chase to get him back into the house. There’s never a dull moment around here. And, no, I do not have a pic of the moment Ray fell off the balcony. I am not that good. I am happy I noticed he’d fallen and I will take credit for getting him back.


Gear

I split the discussion and did not show you gear in yesterday’s post. Waiting is good. Most gear I get is purchased after agonizing over the need and justifying the expense. Leica is Rolls Royce but I do not justify its expense. The “bang” for your $$$$ buck is too low in my opinion. The Canon G7X is my dive camera. It worked so well at the time and still would serve just fine. I am invested in its underwater housing and a strobe. The Sony RX100 VI is a compact camera with more than adequate telephoto reach. It is as good at getting a tele image as my Nikon 80-400mm zoom. Crazy! But to my eye, the image is adequate and way offsets carrying around a big heavy lens when traveling all day. The Canon EOS M6 II was my first mirrorless camera and made an instant leap to my carry-around camera. Covid canceled our trip to Scotland. And, a year later I got the Nikon Z5 full frame mirrorless camera. Full frame is the operative phrase, The camera is larger, therefore, heavier. If you don’t “get” (understand) it (heavy), the Z5 is not for you. Currently, the Z5 is my “go to” except where size matters and I wish to be unobtrusive. And. NO! Colleen will not be going anywhere for the “duration (of our forever marriage).” I am only allowed to have more cameras. … no more cats either. Tech? Gear? No, it’s the image!

So much gear… gearhead? So little time… need all that gear? Does/did it make you better? … do we need another spinning wheel? Sure! Aesthetic? Ah! Hedonistic! The antonym is eudaimonistic. And, we have never heard of that term. So…. go for it! Though, I tend toward introvert, I have never been accused of being a monk.


3%

These are random observations today. 3% is the amount of lemon juice in this container of frozen treat. Two servings at 130 cal for a total of 290 cal in the container. Yeah, do the math. And, two plus two….  Oh, 3% juice? It’s sugar water! Lemons are not naturally sweet. It’s the flower of a dill plant. Who cares? And, look at that fat ass. Sorry, not PC. The pic is to illustrate two – count ‘em – phones. Matching cheeks? Ooops! Phones? Was the daughter embarrassed? This was a random capture. So, the image left me wondering too. Sometimes things just don’t make a whole lot of sense. Tillie? Eyes torqued and tongue out? I don’t know either.


Old “snaps”

I’m a better photographer than Colleen. My skill has been honed to pay attention to detail. It’s knowledge, experience, and better equipment (cameras). Colleen can weave and spin. I am a mere amateur compared to her skill. Ask me to weave anything and I would be at a complete loss. She was looking for old family shots (another story). To protect the innocent, these are old shots of family pets. They are treasured memories to her. Period. Wistfully, I wish they were better and did the beloved pet more justice. By comparison, out of hand, I know the essentials and had the tool to get (better) portraits of our cats, by the hundreds, so far. Sorry, I am truly sorry, I was not there to preserve Colleen’s dear memories. My regret lacks the words to convey the feeling. Precious photos are not always good photos. They are the anchors that crystalize happy memories and the names of beloved pets now departed.