Word and Image

Flowers

Curated?

Antique stores? Some are curated. Others are more junk shop with old rusty stuff. Curated? Well, this is where I overheard a customer bargain over a $1,500 duck decoy. Yes! The paint and other details changed after WW II and there are wood artists who crafted these items. $$$$ as in expensive! Huh! How about the silver antique store? it was full of shiny silverware and objects of great $$$ value. Really?! And who shined it all up? I laughed. There were a few bargains. And there were the Tiffany scissors for $395. Ummm, no. Junk shop? Well, not that either. We will just keep moving on. There are bargains waiting, somewhere. Otherwise, photo-ops are free.


Hello! Hullo!

Pemaquid “calls” to Colleen. We were finally able to return. There were no expectations. It was windy and about to rain. It was perfect. The moment passed so quickly. We will return at some point again on this trip. How could we not? Pent up energy was released. A little. There was barely time to sit, between the rain drops. Next time, we will be sure to sit. Some things need time to slowly percolate through all your senses. Me? I’ll take another (better) picture. But, on this day, after long last, we were back. There is something to be said to coming back once more. I wish I could photograph emotion.


Indulgence

No one could accuse me of holding back nowadays. I just don’t go all out too often. I apologize for the slang given that there are a good many people from around the world who look in. But, once in a while I… Certainly, I spoil Colleen. In this moment, not too often at all, I indulged a whim. I discovered after my recent purchase of the Nikon Z5, that the Nikon zoom 80-400mm lens (I own) did not autofocus when attached the new model body Z5. Long story short, I went to eBay. Of course, they have the Nikon model G that does the job. It is at these times that I have been extremely lucky to get (used) just what I wanted at half price compared to new. The lens arrived in pristine condition. Damn. I was so lucky. My old lens was soft now. ??? I cannot explain except to say that the images were slightly less than tack sharp. Now, the problem is solved. Yeah, it cost $$$. But then, when do I indulge? Don’t answer. Colleen is getting a new spinning wheel… Are pictures better with the new lens? Ah? Sort of. A poor workman blames his tools. I have the tool to become a better workman. Had I but taken a few moments, my trigger happy shots would have been much better. I know this and you would too if you know what I know about fixing things. For instance, the moon is over-exposed; go to manual exposure. I was just too excited (lazy) to make the adjustments. Flog me. My bad. (more slang) I was just being indulgent. Now! I can’t wait to get back to the powwow.


Choices

I think in color. No black and white for me. I started in BxW. Color slide film opened my eyes to a whole new world in photography. BxW conversion is easy in Photoshop/Lightroom. Sure. I just don’t think in shades of gray. I admire those who do and who produce great images in black and white.

Single or gallery? I post multiple images these days because there are too many worthy (?) images and not enough posts. TMI. So, I lose subtlety of fine detail. It’s easy (for me) to see Elle is a great cat pic. But the water droplets or the grasshopper or the bees are harder to discern.

Sometimes I just think I must have closed my eyes and pressed the shutter. Images jump out of Lightroom to grab me. I shot that? Luck or skill, my images come from experience and experimentation. I have practiced “what if” scenarios in order to be in this place. But I readily admit I am not some landscape photographer who will patiently sit day after day until the perfect elements align. I have never, and, I never will… No one ever accused me of being patient. Me? I’m all “go!”


Too much

Today. It’s lessons!… I have learned. We move forward by making mistakes and then correcting our errors. Right? I’m gonna hit a bunch of things I learned this summer. If it’s boring, look at the pictures and … see you tomorrow.

Water: I used the “mist” setting on the nozzle and got water droplets. A little is good. It even looks natural. And, too much? … looks contrived. No! No Photoshop, too much work.

Focus: A good macro lens is unforgiving. There is no depth of field to speak of. Focus is critical. Within a single flower, focus can change the whole feeling. Example: yellow flower. Failure. All summer I have tried to find the focal interest. No luck. it’s just a blurred mess. Red – petunia – flower, focus shallow (petals) or (deeper) stamen? Purple flower, it’s near impossible to get all of its parts in focus. Yes, I manually focus. No, I did not quite get it right.

Timing: See, the praying mantis. Two black dots for eyes? Blink. One shot open and one shot not? Really? Macro – I could not get the whole of the bug in focus. I settled for the head and “eyes.”

TMI? It’s why I love photography. Not like, love. Well, I love my wife – first and foremost. (Ha! I live another day.) There are challenges. I am not perfect. I try different things. And, very much unlike in a medical practice, no one dies! Practice, practice, practice. Practice makes perfect.


658,644 … and counting

Digital images. 4/16/2003. Canon G3 to 8/10/2021 Nikon Z5. I have a recorded database of nearly 700 thousand pictures/images in digital. It does not include iPhone for several thousand more. I think that this is more or less complete a complete accounting.  About 36,000 digital images a year compared to about 3,600 per year of slide film. Moreover, my digital images have increased in recent years and was paltry early on. So, I am at about 70,000 digital images a year right now. Yeah, it’s a lot. And if you are not a photo buff, it is more than enough to make your head spin. Laugh all you would like. It’s my avocation – hobby or minor occupation. Some call it an obsession. And for those who would know me – a look into the (my) mind. Luckily, the very first digital image was serviceable – David. Of late, the first image on a new memory card is of my ID – so if found, I just might get it (memory card/camera) back. And, today, 700k images later, it’s cats and flowers. Colleen has a rash and my kids are far away. Yes, that’s a pair of chopsticks in Peas’ mouth. Don’t ask.


Hey?!!

Right after I lamented yesterday, it seems that I have a hole in my posts. Today was open. Nada. Nothing. …. good thing I checked. Travel! We made it to Maine. They canceled the Common Ground Fair and Pumpknfest amid concern for Covid. Boo! So, make lemonade. We are: Outdoor dining. Bakery for breakfast. Touring. Getting lost. Lost earring. Old Revolutionary war era home. There’s a lot you can do. Masks and not. I worked the duck scene. I did not quite get it right. But, there it is. Too much potential, not enough patience, wrong lens? How lovely! … on the road again. Lost earring? We bought a pair and (Colleen) lost one constantly donning a mask. Returning to the store, we found out they could track the artist and get a replacement or another crafted. That is a happy ending!


Lucky

I’m lucky… lucky to have images that jog my memory. Pelicans? Dave was here (at the beach), with sunflowers? Jumping, I’ve been asking people to jump as an icebreaker. Philippe Halsman – look him up – was a master photographer of the “jump shot.” It always makes me smile. Photo-bombing? It’s a new term. Emma! Rory has the weight of the world on her mind. So young, you ain’t seen nutin’ yet! The summer flowers are fading. I spun the catalog to a random page. It was quite a day(back then)!


Old joke

By now I can be accused of pushing an old joke… too far. Museums. Irreverence. Heinous. Not quite. You would not call (my composite) art too? I’ve been at it for a while. Don’t ask me to collect the past examples. Fun? You bet. The essential element? A tolerant wife. It’s collaboration. After all Colleen took all those pics of me. Ok! That said, we found a typo in one of the exhibits: 2923, wrong date. We are still masking up. That’s a mirror – reflection, not doorway.

Droopy spider web? It seems in the morning mist/fog with the water droplets upon it, a spider web will droop. Who knew? There was a big old hairy ugly spider who had this web. Along came an albino juvenile. It just happened to wander into my picture. As you can see the web is not so architecturally symmetrically accurate. Should we be disappointed? Or, all spiders are not OCD.

As long as we are talking mist and water, can you appreciate the small droplets and detail at the end of this hibiscus flower? Macro photography opened up a new world for me this summer.

Too many images, too little time/space to post.


Counting the cars…

As long as we are on Simon and Garfunkel… counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike…. Colleen took this shot. Great shot! She was shooting to include the green arrows. ??? I don’t know. She got a quintessential shot of traffic in America! I’ve been there! And, on our return trip the GPS gods took us on a (lost) detour past St Vlad’s church on the hill. Sometimes random wandering is good! Note: you are never lost if you never put the car in reverse.

Meanwhile, back at home, the flowers … they are fewer as summer fades. It is time for the rose of Sharon to bloom. I have one this year. It is my harbinger to fall.

The Summer Knows – Barbra Streisand

… And if you’ve learned your lesson well
There’s little more for her to tell
One last caress
It’s time to dress
For fall


Color

Define white. You would naturally describe it in terms of what we identify as white. A white wall, white paper, white box, white flower. All different? Oh, so shades – light white, bright white, gray white, yellowish white… Ha! It’s not so easy. Avocado pits/skins and cherry pits will dye fiber pink. Each skein comes out subtly different from the next. But they are all pink in total. Subtle, barely distinguishable from one another, it’s the same for flowers. Time of day, sun or shade, will all change the color I capture in my camera. The color and the details and the focus are even subtly different from one image to the next. My image is captured in a fraction of a second. The moment passes and the scene has changed. What’s white?


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.


One that got away

I hate bugs. It doesn’t stop me from photographing them. The clouds do not form up every day for pictures just for me. It is nice when they do. And, sometimes I close my eyes. Or, I just press the shutter and hope for the best. Yeah, scientific. There are days when you press that camera shutter and you have no idea what will come in the edits. Yes, I’m laughing too. I will never admit it. Skill! But, I’m thinking horseshoes. Close! It’s enough. Oh! The green bug(?); he got away from the spider. Close call!


Way back

Quintessential Maine, Somesville bridge. It’s not my best effort, but this was a long time ago and before I knew better. The first balloon festival (for me) had the searing memory of Lisa dipping her poison ivy covered arms in a bucket of ice at a soda vendor; no, not pictured here. How about a field of wildflowers they planted just for my camera? My dog Nellie, I loved that dog! One more summer image, fishing, the water was about 18 inches deep. But, you get the idea. Idyllic, childhood. It was a different time. Good. Better, that’s harder to say.


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.


Strictly amateur

professional

1. relating to or belonging to a profession.

2. engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.

Strictly amateur, though I might have pursued photography more seriously, it was never my day job. I chose something a bit more exclusive – brain surgery. Ha ha. Who knew? I quit surgery and am still doing photography. Hmmmm… Photography (for me) is random and unrestricted without any mandate to get “the shot.” It is (continues) a negative cash flow as I buy new camera equipment. Rewarding can be altruistic as many family members appreciate my efforts. Colleen can be (is) such a kind audience. No pressure! I am quite content to let luck be my guide. The neurosurgery department motto (my residency) was: “Better to be lucky than good.” This more or less refers to a miraculous save during surgery that transcended the basic skill of the surgeon. Of course, it helps to be both.


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….


Learning curve

Hey! Look how close I got to the dragonflies. They were all over my yard. They land on a point and rest. They move away when you approach but tend to circle around and alight on the same spot. They get used to you, hence, I was able to get in close. I presume the western wildfires may be responsible for the spectacular clouds blowing in from my west. And, what else is there to add to the fact that my spiffy macro lens catches great flower details. Yes, enlarging the images in Lightroom lets me appreciate things I might never otherwise notice. (Double click the image, it will enlarge somewhat.) I’ve been at photography a long time. … and still learning.


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.


Detail detail

What do you notice? Detail! Detail! DETAIL! Japanese beetles humping? Spider web. It’s tough to focus on the darn web. Hard! What do you see (lily stamens)? It’s subtle but different. And, subtle makes all the difference. There’s a fine line between oooh and aaah. Simple? Sometimes less is more. I just ended up with stuff I thought I would share. It’s just a drop of water.


Nut?

Wing nut is an insulting slang term for a person who’s considered eccentric or who has extreme political views. … It’s also called a butterfly nut (because of the “wings”) or a thumbnut (because it can be easily turned with the thumb and forefinger).

When all those around me are crazy… it must be me – who’s crazy?! Hlep! hmmm, that would be help? Place the emphasis on eccentric. Me? I should stick to photography and the beauty around in the world. (Remember, I hate bugs.) Mike didn’t want to be in this picture. For real. He has always said being on the edge of the shot makes it easy to crop him when he is dropped from the family. In this case, I am newest – last in. There are those who would certainly drop me. Interestingly, half the family got the time for dinner wrong and they are not in the shot. No, I did not try to wrangle more chaos into a coherent family picture, later. Instead, everyone ran around taking individual memories with iPhone. It works. I do what I can. No one was hungry at the end of the evening. I, too, am on the edge – documenting someone’s family, or, intruding on their fun. From the motley collection of poor black and white old photos, and, faded out of focus color shots – it is the good time that matters. Regrets about poor photography were never the point. Perhaps it is a blessing that some memories are not so clearly remembered.


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.


Who’s it for

Nikon just released the Nikon Z fc camera. It is a brother to the Nikon Z50. Of course, I just gifted a Z50 to Jules and family – and a new model/comparable is released a few weeks later. My (bad) timing is so impeccably typical!! Alas! Drat! Double drat! Laugh – all of you out there – at me, who once again did not get the 411. But, who is this ‘retro’ style camera for? Is its appeal to the old film photographer in me? Ummm… does Nikon know that the last film I shot was in 2004. Film was gone not long after. And, soon enough, all the photographers who shot film will follow. It is comparable to making a Ford Model T for the masses. I think if Ford did not do it, Nikon is heading up a dead end too. But, then again, that’s my opinion. I laud the idea and admire the camera. Right now, I am thinking of my next new iPhone. Hmmm, do I care about the meal I’m eating or the pan in which I cooked the meal?


How much

No matter how I try, I cannot justify the expense of a $9,000 camera. The more $$$ the better image? At that point I would estimate that the photographer is the limiting factor. I’m just not good enough for the equipment. I’m lazy. My composition is poor. And, my hands would shake. I drive around with a camera sitting on the dashboard and take shots thru the windshield while the car is moving at speed. Yeah, this is all lost on me. All that detail in the lovely lens, is lost on me with the shaking moving car. I’m not the next – (name someone famous). Far from it, are my images worthy? They are fun. Night or day, small or large, macro or landscape, I have no specialty or particular need. Don’t speak of autofocus points or noise. The bottom line – image. I guess my kids have it right – iPhone. It gets you where you want to go, Dad? Meanwhile, I am very happy within my price range $. It’s a game – bang for your buck. At a certain point $9,000 is well spent on something else than a single camera. There are those for whom status is the key. Mercedes and Porsche bank on it. My need is to get from point A to B safely and reliably. And within reason, I like to drive more than a VW ‘bug.’ Like my kids’ iPhone, in a pinch, a screw driver can be a hammer.

I like eating out in restaurants. I have eaten in McD and I have eaten in white cloth restaurants. Would you spend $1,000 for a single meal? $5? We all have our personal price point. Yours?