Word and Image

Family

It happens once a year

Another year, happy birthday Jules. The IPhone message comes with balloon effect! A family – lovely daughter, husband – and happiness; I spent the day and did not get the ‘shot’ the one or two outstanding shots that are wow. Oh well, another day, but those days are fewer and fewer these days when we live so far apart. I wish you all the best now and forever. These images no matter what will live on in/on the ‘net for a long time to come. I will be gone before too long. But I will always love you just as I remember the day you were born.


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.?!


Mission failure

Some days you don’t feel like you got what you came to photograph. It was bright sunny and the contrasting light did not allow me to get details of the eyes. All day! Sure, there were serviceable shots. But, it was a failure by my standard and expectation. No do overs! Alas! Drat! Double drat! I won’t make the mistake again. But, it was a lost opportunity. I’m used to a very high percentage of good shots. Once again, I learned from my mistake. All day! The light remained contrasty. The best shots were not mine. I should have known, and once again, I learned. It was Jules who got the shots of the day.


Unexpected image

Diplomacy. Not my strong suit. Present & former wife – we all survived the encounter. They were cordial. We were there, for my daughter, the common point: and, of course, Noa, the youngest grandchild. At least we are civil; I/we had always intended to be so. A peace offering: Colleen gave Lisa a spinning wheel she was not using. We were making space: a new wheel will soon arrive. Either way, it worked out for the good. It was a strange day on many levels. It ended peacefully. One never knows. Strained? Tension? Nah!


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.)


Good one?

I give up. Currently, I cannot cull, edit, and choose a single image from among the myriad of good ones I have in my collection. So, I cheat. I use a gallery and sneak in multiple images, sometimes, even “repeats.” How else can I share the fun? Every time I see the flower with the “tongue” I think of the Rolling Stones. Water, it’s a universal favorite. No matter, it’s all good and keeps getting better… well, at least it’s always changing.


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.


By the way

It’s the same ole… picture. Why take it again? You have that already? Over and over… I take the same picture of the same subjects… and they are always different… or not. Sometimes there is something almost ethereal. There’s a slight difference from before that transcends…. We are on the flight path from BWI PHI and IAD – Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington DC. Isn’t it swell that the jet paths cross over our heads north and south? Ethereal, they diffuse in minutes. We are between here and there, the middle of nowhere.

I take pictures of Colleen. Shhh… do I love here because she looks so good or does she look so good because I love her? Don’t ask. Don’t know. And, flowers? Sometimes there’s a glow, an angle, a softness of focus – that subtle difference between ooh and aah. Is there? a difference? Some days I am good. And, on others I feel like that “blind squirrel” lucky enough to get a nut.


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.


A few

Way back in the beginning… back in 2011, I started this blog. It was free. Free is for me! I’m not selling anything. No $ either way, in either direction. Not true, I pay a fee for extra memory (on the site) nowadays. There are ads, a few, not my doing, not mine (ads). Essentially, free. Followers, a lot of commercial WordPress sites these days, fishing for business. Followers, a few, to whom I imparted the blog address. There are few enough followers who have found me from around the world. But indeed, there have been visitors from around the world. Ah, the power of the internet! I do not seek fame. I merely share thoughts and photos. I’m better than average and less than great. I am not the best in my family but better than most. My own kids have produced 5 star pics on their iPhones! It’s not common, so, the body of my work is technically better. But, then art was never about quantity. Quality can show up in a single image. Colleen’s kids – Emma has more photography experience. But, even Jess and Ian have shown that even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while. Even though I take great shots, it’s just not every day. But every day, I take shots.


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!


It’s been a while

It’s been about 14 months since I had a proper haircut. I cut, and, Colleen cut – my hair. It was Covid. Meanwhile, Colleen got her hair cut. Then, I did. It’s not all that different. Ha! Yes, it is. But, the good news, it seems no one much noticed. I suppose anyone can tell. Colleen does/did. I have to admit (readily, though reluctantly) that her haircut came out very well! It was like spring cleaning. Out with the old, in with the new, it’s good to feel neat again.


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.


Travel day

If you take away no other information, Colleen loves to eat out. It’s a bread stick! …but sublime. What a smile! Travel day – it’s the long ride to or from. We usually squeeze in an antique store or two. Some are high end “curated” – i.e. expensive! – and others are more practical – fun. No matter what, there’s always a lot of what you don’t need or didn’t know anyone else would ever buy – an electric cow milking machine? Shepard and sheep? Empty tin cans? Iron skillet? Oh, the things you find! Herd immunity? And the smile (eating out)… priceless!


Jane-d!

We just experienced Jane(d) again. This would be a follow up to a recent post on this very subject. Never take a photo of someone while they eat. (They look funny – ridiculous.) Jane loves to eat out. She loves to try everything on the menu – if only she could. She ordered tacos. I do not believe she has ever eaten a taco and probably misheard the waitress. She was surprised enough to ask what it was they placed before her. And she did not eat it. She took it home to die in her refrigerator until after we left. Ditto – the dessert. It was a mango parfait. The baker came from the kitchen to ask how she liked it. Jane said it would have been better with fresh mango to which the baker replied she had used a fresh mango puree. Insert foot…. Colleen and I thoroughly enjoyed dinner. I pretended Jane ate everything and was pleased as well. That would be my story and I’m sticking with it.


Irish

This would the the “luck” of the Irish on Colleen’s side. We almost had a yard sale by the side of the highway in West Virginia in the absolute middle of nowhere. We had a low tire warning signal and the right rear tire was losing pressure at about a pound per mile. I made it to an exit off the highway with a gas station. And we got directions to a tire place about 7 miles down a twisty winding country road. I had just about lost faith in the directions when the tire shop came into view. Of course, it was “worst case scenario.” The nail hole at the tread rim was leaking enough that we could hear it. The tires need to be matched. That is – you need four matched tires on this particular model car. So, four new tires: they just happened to have our size. And, we were back on the road after about an hour’s delay. This would be considered way better than the alternative scenario. Irish! Colleen has Irish in her heritage. I feel so lucky! Coincidence? Colleen met a guy waiting for his car to be serviced. She and he knew common people all around the state. You just can’t seem to go anywhere without running into someone….


July 4th

We don’t. We don’t July 4th. Not much anymore. I have mixed feeling, since living in Saudi and having gone thru the Trump years. For us the flag is now associated with the conservative “big lie” Republicans. Sure enough, we ran into a bunch in our conservative town on this day back years ago. Frankly, it’s sickening. Rah rah. Democracy is demonized and the flag never felt more like the connotation of “love it or leave it.” I don’t feel much like a part of that “gang.” When did America stop opening its arms to the “tired, poor, and huddled masses? It’s just so hard to cling to any hope. Colleen is an optimist. She will never give up believing in “good.” I will do so because she is my hope.


Game changer

I need(ed) a kick in the pants. Boredom? Stagnation? Progression? Rut? I started taking flower pictures in earnest last summer. Sure, I have tons of flower pictures from the past. Yawn! But, last summer I started paying attention to the little details. I discovered I had been missing a lot. This spring I convinced myself to get a macro lens. I had a macro lens. It was an old clunky mechanical macro lens, now decades old. There were a myriad of reasons to justify the purchase of a new toy. I am acquisitive and have been all my life. Why not indulge? I did. I got a spiffy full frame mirrorless camera body to go with it. Don’t ask. Boys and toys. It has been a game changer. I am, for the moment, shooting exclusively, extensively, with the new camera and macro lens. Better images? Sure. You can also do the job with about any other equipment. But, like cars, some are better suited to the task. Ease of use and consistent results help. It is similar to the improvement of my dive photos after I started using a dedicated underwater housing and a flash strobe. Unless you are a gearhead, you will not likely understand. Maybe you will nod indulgently like Colleen. Part of what I love is that she (Colleen) understands too well my exuberant enthusiasm. Her spinning wheels are much larger (size) examples how much fun it is to have different tools for the same task. Why use different spinning wheels? Each (wheel) brings something different and, so, brings joy to the task at hand. I like different cameras (not too many) for what they can do to get the image I have visualized. I firmly believe that iPhone is not the best tool for most situations.


Options

All of this, and, without a macro lens… you work with what you brung. We were In Winterthur, the Dupont estate gardens. The plantings are timed to bloom all year long in waves of color throughout the seasons It was azalea time. Peonies were in bloom. Spectacular. The hard part is capturing the beauty. With all the possibility, it was not easy to get a quintessential image. One image? There were too many choices. Wide-angle, macro, telephoto, portrait – it was sensory overload. It is entirely possible to be overwhelmed by great images, one after another. Some days you feel fortunate just to be in the moment. … and to share it with the one you love.


Digital vs Photography

Digital is free. A memory card holds thousands of images. The cost per image is fractions of a penny. Film was costly. It cost money to buy film, develop negatives, and print a picture. You got 36 negatives per roll. If you were Ansel Adams you carried around a large view camera and a limited number of photographic plates. Each image was a process and they had better count because it was not like a machine gun; you could not just spray and shoot. I learned a while ago, that a motor drive will not get you the critical moment when you are shooting sports. There, actually, is skill involved. If you don’t appreciate this, then keep your finger on your iPhone shutter and blast away. A blind squirrel is said to get a nut sometimes. The majority of results do not respect the process and the images reflect the lack thereof in kind. Too complicated and don’t care, yes, in the universe of bad images, this is the majority. And, even I, admit to taking too many pictures these days. Press the shutter – I will edit or change things in Lightroom or Photoshop later. It is interesting to think upon the process. I am guilty. I fire away and defer the consequences to a later moment. Or, should I take a real picture? Less is more? Do you think about one good image? Or, is it, close your eyes, press the shutter and hope for the best? Black or white? I do a little of both. Experience, there is something to be said for having tools Ansel Adams never had. At the end of the day, did you have fun? For me, digital is my negative. I shot 26 images to meld into a single shot. Ansel would have worked his negative to get all the detail onto a single plate. Today, it’s called HDR. We are both working the problem with what we have in our tech arsenal.


Looking back

It is interesting how your viewpoint changes in an instant. For a year I have been happy with my images. Then I switched cameras. Suddenly, pictures taken a couple months ago look so different in Lightroom. Focus, composition, lighting – everything looks different – worse. I am better. Or, not. I learn primarily by yesterday’s mistakes. I admit to many. And, I am committed to improving my images going forward. Mainly, I just stopped paying attention. Without a viewfinder, I let the camera take the picture. I left a lot to automation and AI. It did not work so well – in my opinion. One simple thought. Selfies; no one is around, take off your silly mask. It is instantly a better picture. Duh! Anyway, I got a wake-up call while editing nearly 1000 images taken back in March compared to my current work using a viewfinder again. The point: using the LCD, I got lazy and stopped paying attention to critical focus and composition. As a result many of my pictures were poorly exposed and unfocused. Composition had gone to hell. 1000 images and most of them were not worthy. I had pressed the shutter and hoped for the best. I have regained my senses. I am better now. I will improve. Sometimes, less is more.