Word and Image

Flowers

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?


Vertical

When I started in film, “they” always admonished me to hold the camera vertically – get a vertical shot – about 10% of the time. Or, more. Nowadays, I shoot 99% with the horizontal computer screen in mind. My shots are mostly horizontal. I can crop vertically, easily enough. Or, more than ever I hold my camera tilted off horizontal to get a more “street” or “edgy” look. Ha! The cameras I have all have a horizontal ‘indicator’ to hold you perfectly aligned which is anything but what I want to be. Come as you are! My images turn out vertically sometimes because I am holding the camera so far off horizontal. To which I might ask, if you have a round flower, does it matter – horizontal or vertical? To which, I might add, I never met a rule I didn’t try to break…


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.?!


Unexpected outcome

When Barb cut down my passion vine last season, I suspected it was gone for good. We got another vine (4); they promptly died. And, I got one more for $$$ this spring. Somehow, I assumed it would be the same as the one Barb cut. Nope! This one is crimson red. This was a surprise. Cherry blossoms don’t come in a myriad of colors. I assumed… wrongly. This is quite striking. I wonder if it will survive my growing zone? And, if not? We got a real show.


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.


Macro – detail

It’s not microscopic photography. Once upon a time, I did plenty of medical photography through an operating microscope. Macro photography is focusing in on the small details the eye will usually not see unaided. The macro lens brings that detail into focus. In this manner one can see the fine hairs on the stamens or almost make out the individual grains of pollen. It’s fascinating. It’s eye-opening. I can demonstrate detail that I never saw in the past without the aid of a macro lens. It elevates your perception and appreciation above the ordinary flower photo. I don’t think I could get these results with an iPhone. (Go ahead. Zoom in on the images to see the extraordinary detail.)


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!


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.


Great shot

What’s great? It’s all subjective. You see it while you are editing. That’s it! I have too many good shots to count. There’s no time to dwell. It’s a gestalt thing. See it. Pick it. My back yard, it’s so serene. There you are. Everything was good all at the same time in this moment. The red flower? Rolling Stones – it’s a tongue. Water droplets on the petunia never fail to make me look twice. I tried. There’s not enough time and too many images. I cannot stay within posting one image per day. Great shots are everywhere. I’m so lucky.


Depth of field

I did a composite of three images, it is obvious if you know what to look for. Or, it is obvious if you notice something is not quite right. I will explain. Look closely and you will see three distinct levels of focus: front, middle, and rear. And in between each zone, the flower is out of focus: soft. It’s subtle but distinct. It gives the full view of the flower. If you didn’t notice then my manipulation was successful in illustrating the flower. Me? I noticed it was unnatural right away. Then it took a moment to realize the explanation. The macro lens I used has no depth of field whatsoever. It is the nature of the lens. And, in this case, it illustrates the concept of depth of field nicely. Confused? No worries. You can appreciate the image without understanding the technical details.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Tiny details

Ho hum. Another flower picture? Yawn, boring. Till… I noticed the tiny details. Last summer I shot the flowers in my garden with a regular camera zoom lens. The details I captured were eye-opening. This year I updated my gear and got an (up-to-date) macro lens. I got the right tool for the job. I can appreciate the improvement in my images. I was used to a wide-angle view of the garden. Now, I see and capture tiny details. Learning a new trick has been fun and introduced interest once again. I am challenged to illustrate things we would not ordinarily notice in the common flowers in our garden.


Depth

As if you might care – macro photography has a very limited depth of field. This is good or bad. I have had to adjust. The critical focus makes it imperative to be certain of the point of interest. Lack of focus is unforgiving. Either you got the shot or not. Ok! Enough! You want to see? The African daisy is in focus at the back and not the front. It’s subtle but makes all the difference between “ok” and “wow!” If you didn’t notice or don’t care, good for you!


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.